EXPLAINED: How states across Germany are relaxing Covid rules

Indoor dining, tourism, sports: in some federal states, new relaxations are coming into force or will soon. Here's a look at some of the rule changes happening across Germany.

EXPLAINED: How states across Germany are relaxing Covid rules
An employee making a bed in a Hamburg hotel. Hotels opened in Hamburg on June 1st. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Reinhardt

Across Germany, Covid numbers have been falling, allowing cities and districts to start reopening after months of shutdown.

Although states have been required to follow the nationwide ’emergency brake’ rules that prescribe for measures to be tightened when Covid cases rise, regions have been going their own way with reopening road plans. 

Here’s a look at the recent or upcoming changes from some of Germany’s 16 states. 

READ ALSO: When (and how) German states will relax Covid restrictions


In Hamburg, indoor dining in restaurants, cafes and bars is allowed to open starting this weekend, Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) announced on Tuesday in view of falling Covid numbers.

But keep in mind that there are stricter regulations for indoor dining than for outdoors. For example guests have to provide a recent negative Covid test,  proof of completed vaccination or recovery from coronavirus. 

Private gatherings are still limited to five people, though they may now come from more than two households.

Under a nationwide regulation, Covid-recovered and fully vaccinated people have not faced contact restrictions since May 9th. This applies throughout Germany. 

What else has been changing in Hamburg?

In Hamburg, tourists are allowed to stay overnight again in hotels and other holiday accommodation from Tuesday. For the time being, however, hotels are only allowed to operate at 60 percent of their capacity. There are also strict regulations such as mandatory Covid testing. 

City and harbour tours can also take place again. 

READ ALSO: IN PHOTOS: How Germany is reopening after more than six months of Covid shutdown

There are further relaxations in the area of sports: 20 adults are allowed to exercise together outdoors, and a max of 10 people can take part in non-contact sports indoors after a negative test is presented.

Tested, Covid-recovered and fully vaccinated people are also allowed to exercise in gyms or visit yoga studios, although only one person per 10  square meters of space  can be admitted.

Children are allowed to use gyms and sports fields without limits on numbers, and coronavirus testing.

Sporting events can be held with up to 650 spectators.

Hamburg will look to ease more rules from June 10th. Hamburg, which brought in ’emergency brake’ measures including a curfew ahead of many other parts of Germany, has seen a huge drop in cases in recent weeks.


Due to the sharp drop in the number of infections, Berlin is also relaxing a number of Covid rules earlier than planned, mayor Michael Müller (SPD) announced on Tuesday.

Under the new plans, restaurants in Berlin can open their indoor spaces from Friday June 4th, with a mandatory testing requirement. Negative Covid tests are no longer needed for outdoor terraces and shopping.

There are also plans to allow larger outdoor and indoor events again with restrictions. 

Private meetings will be permitted with more people. Up to six people from three households will then be allowed to meet indoors, and up to ten people from five households outdoors (excluding under 14s).

As of June 11th, hotels in Berlin will be allowed to accept tourists again. There will be no occupancy limits, but hygiene plans will apply. The hotel reopening date has been coordinated with neighbouring Brandenburg.

READ ALSO: Indoor dining and gyms: How Berlin’s new eased Covid rules affect you


The Rhineland-Palatinate state government is easing coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday, state premier Malu Dreyer (SPD) announced.

Under the new rules, outdoor swimming pools and amusement parks can reopen with conditions. Cultural events can also take place indoors with a maximum of 100 people, plus restrictions.

Visits to the outdoor areas of restaurants will be allowed with a negative rapid test. Beer gardens and forest huts (Pfälzerwald-Hütten) are also allowed to reopen. 

Congregational singing is again allowed at outdoor church services, and smaller ensembles can perform and sing in church halls.

In future, private contacts will be limited to five people regardless of the number of households. Vaccinated, recovered people and children up to 14 will not be counted in these rules.

“We’re already taking a very big step today,” Dreyer said on Tuesday, adding that it was “much further than we originally thought we would in our perspective plan.”


Coronavirus rules are changing in this state on Wednesday.

The easing of rules applies to districts and cities that have registered fewer than 35 infections per week per 100,000 residents for at least five days – even if those five days began before the new rules took effect. The amended regulation is to be in effect until the end of June; however, if the infection situation continues to improve, it could be further relaxed.

Contact rules: People are allowed to meet up to 10 other people, regardless of the number of households.

Guests enjoying beer in Wernigerode, Saxony-Anhalt on May 30th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

Travel: Youth hostels and vacation camps can reopen. And bus trips and city tours are also allowed again with mask requirements.

Restaurants and shops: Outdoor dining in restaurants is again allowed without testing. Indoor areas are still subject to mandatory testing.

The curfew in restaurants until 10pm is being lifted. Retailers will no longer be required to document customer contact information.

Schools: The basic phased plan for opening schools remains in place. According to the plan, the first schools already restarted regular operations on Monday, and all schools in the state are expected to be teaching all children in classrooms again by next week at the latest.

Events: Professionally organised events such as weddings, or graduation ceremonies are again allowed to have up to 100 people inside, with testing and contact tracking. Outdoors, up to 250 guests can attend. The limit of 30 people for wedding ceremonies and funeral services is being lifted.

Sports: In outdoor pools, Covid testing is no longer required; in indoor pools, testing remains a prerequisite for attendance. In sports clubs, the previous testing requirement has been dropped.

Culture: Choir and band rehearsals are allowed again. Theatres, cinemas and similar cultural events can allow up to 250 guests indoors and up to 500 outdoors.

READ ALSO: Germans return to pools and beer gardens as some Covid curbs lifted


As of Friday, the obligation to be tested for coronavirus before entering shops will no longer apply in Germany’s smallest state, Saarland.

From then on, contact sports indoors are also possible with a Covid test, the state announced on Tuesday.

A total of five people can meet again in private regardless of the number of households.

From June 11th, the test obligation for outdoor dining will be lifted.

The state government wants to present a concept for further relaxations in sports, culture and private events, it said.

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Is the pandemic over in Germany?

As much of Germany lifts - or prepares to lift - the last remaining Covid-19 measures, intensive care units say Covid-19 admissions are no longer straining the system.

Is the pandemic over in Germany?

Despite a difficult winter of respiratory illnesses, intensive care units in Germany say Covid-19 admissions have almost halved. The number of cases having to be treated in the ICU has gone down to 800 from 1,500 at the beginning of this month.

“Corona is no longer a problem in intensive care units,” Gernot Marx, Vice President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, told the German Editorial Network. “A the moment, we don’t have to think every day about how to still ensure the care of patients, but how to actually run a service that can help.”

Marx said the drop has allowed them to catch up on many postponed surgeries.

The number of sick employees in hospitals is also falling, helping to relieve the pressure on personnel.

The easing pressure on hospitals correlates with the assessment of prominent virologist and head of the Virology department at Berlin’s Charite – Christian Drosten – who said in December that the pandemic was close to ending, with the winter wave being an endemic one.

German federal and state governments are now in the midst of lifting the last of the country’s pandemic-related restrictions. Free Covid-19 antigen tests for most people, with exceptions for medical personnel, recently ended.

READ ALSO: Free Covid-19 tests end in Germany

Six federal states – Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hessen, Thuringia, Lower Saxony, and Schleswig-Holstein – have ended mandatory isolation periods for people who test positive for Covid-19.

Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt, and Schleswig-Holstein have ended the requirement to wear FFP2 masks on public transport, while Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony, Thuringia, and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania will follow suit on February 2nd.

At that time, the federal government will also drop its requirement for masks to be worn on long-distance trains. Labour Minister Hubertus Heil says that’s when he also intends to exempt workplaces – apart from medical locations – from a mask requirement.

READ ALSO: Germany to drop mask mandate in trains and buses from February 2nd

Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg will also end the requirement for patients to wear a mask in doctor’s offices. That’s a requirement that, so far, will stay in place everywhere else. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has also said that he thinks this requirement should remain. 

But some public health insurers and general practitioners are calling for a nationwide end to the obligation for wearing masks in doctor’s offices.

“The pandemic situation is over,” National Association of Statutory Health Physicians (KBV) Chair Andreas Gassen told the RND network. “High-risk patients aren’t treated in all practices. It should generally be left up to medical colleagues to decide whether they want to require masks in their practices.”